Documentary filmmakers shine spotlight on local lawns
Summerlin News | March 10-16, 2006
By Derek Olson


Brown, left, and Flagg film Lake Mead for their upcoming documentary Gimme Green.

Florida filmmakers Isaac Brown and Eric Flagg recently came to Summerlin to document its lush green lawns, which they call a status-driven symbol of American waste.

They two documentarians filmed the area for two days on their nationwide journey to make “Gimme Green,” a movie about lawns. They said they chose the area because they believe Nevada's water waste is especially egregious.

“My idea of Summerlin is that status is king,” Brown said. “Water is so precious that it's almost more impressive to have a real lawn because water is exotic. It's a desert.”

Flagg, also an environmental consultant, said, “When I see a neighborhood, I see the infrastructure, the legal issues and the science that went into that environment.”

Flagg said he was especially surprised so much water went to lawns during a drought.

“We're using drinking quality water on something that has no economic value,” he said.

Since the drought began in 2000, the water level of Lake Mead, where 90 percent of the city's water originates, has dropped by approximately 70 feet, according to the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

Residents are the biggest users in Southern Nevada, said water authority spokeswoman Angelica Quiroz. Landscaping consumes 70 percent of water used in the average home, she said. Each year the average lawn uses 55 gallons of water per square foot.

“Everybody thinks it's the resorts and the casinos, but actually they're very efficient,” she said.

The water authority offers residents $1 per square foot to convert traditional lawns to xeriscape that uses less water, she said.

The filmmakers said that people use lawns to express orderliness and status to one another in an increasingly impersonal world.

“The lawn is one way we communicate,” Flagg said. “I'm just like you, and here's my lawn to prove it. It's a badge, like a Tommy Hilfiger label on your pocket.”